Health surveillance

Health surveillance is an important part of health risk management.

what is health surveillance?

Health surveillance is an important part of health risk management and seeks to confirm that where employees are potentially exposed to workplace hazards, the control measures are effective, and the worker is showing no biological or clinical changes that could indicate damaging exposure.

Health surveillance is appropriate where potential exposure to a workplace hazard has a known health effect and there is a validated, reproducible and measurable biological impact. Surveillance will be conducted when an exposure is identified or can be reasonably expected or is required under legislation. These include a wide spectrum of chemical, physical and biological hazards which can be divided into general industry-related hazards such as noise, radiation, vibration and also location-specific exposures such as process-related chemicals.

Audiometry

For testing your hearing.

Spirometry

For lung function tests.

Skin Assessment

Testing for skin irritations.

HAVS

For people who used hand-held power tools.

Frequency

How often are assessments needed?

Record Keeping for Health Surveillance

How long do you keep records for?

Audiometry

Test hearing ability.

Audiometric assessments test an individual’s hearing ability and is a method of monitoring any changes in hearing over time. Hearing loss is permanent and deterioration in hearing can be caused by age, medical conditions, or exposure to loud noise. Exposure to loud noise can occur in the workplace or as a result of hobbies such as listening to loud music or shooting.

Audiometry must be provided to all staff who are frequently exposed to noise which exceeds the upper exposure action value. It can identify if hearing protection is working and being worn properly in the workplace and that noise levels are being monitored and risks are controlled.

 

The HSE categorise hearing as follows:

Category 1 – acceptable hearing ability
Category 2 – mild hearing impairment, needs formal notification of hearing loss
Category 3 – Poor hearing, suggests significant noise induced hearing loss requiring appropriate referral for further medical assessment
Category 4 – rapid hearing loss requiring appropriate referral for further medical assessment

Unilateral hearing loss – requiring appropriate referral for further medical assessment

Spirometry

For lung function tests.

Spirometry assesses an individual’s lung function and determines whether there has been any damage to the lungs caused by occupational risks such as exposure to dust, chemicals, fumes or other substances.

Exposure to these risks can cause occupational asthma which can be a serious health condition and those exposed should undergo health surveillance in order to detect any early signs of ill health so that appropriate measures can be put into place.

Skin Assessment

Testing for skin irritations.

Skin assessments are often completed alongside spirometry testing as substances that irritate the lungs can also irritate the skin.

The skin is examined visually for any early signs of contact dermatitis or other skin conditions and if any concerns are noted, employers can then restrict exposure and the employee can consult medical advice to resolve the condition before it progresses.

HAVS

For people who used hand-held power tools.

Significant and permanent ill health can be caused by the use of hand-held power tools and vibrating equipment. HAVS is preventable, so it is important to conduct health surveillance on those at risk of exposure or those with pre-existing conditions such as Raynaud’s disease.

HAVS assessments can identify any vibration-related condition early in order to prevent its progression and ensure the effectiveness of measures in place.

Frequency

Best Practice.

Health surveillance shall be performed at appropriate intervals as defined by the exposure, or as indicated in the relevant procedure, or as defined by legislation.

  • Evidence of harm may require the frequency to be increased
  • Change in work materials or process may require a change in frequency

Change of materials or process may remove the risk factors thereby allowing the worker to be removed from health surveillance.

    Record Keeping for Health Surveillance

    How long do you keep records for?

    It is suggested that all health records be kept by the employer for 40 years. Following on from health surveillance a record sheet will be provided to managers which will satisfy the HSE requirements.

    Our health surveillance programmes are underpinned by a set of clear objectives:

          • Establish baseline health parameters for all new employees to the workplace who are likely to be exposed to the identified hazards
          • Identify early health effects in an exposed population
          • Provide an ongoing programme to monitor for any deterioration in any employees who may have established health effects due to damaging exposures
          • Increase awareness amongst employees of the risks of exposure and provide information on appropriate protection/ risk prevention
          • Provide feedback to employer on the effectiveness of the health risk management programme
          • Provide a system to ensure effective feedback and the management of control measures to ensure that the health of the workforce is not further affected by workplace exposures

    Common Assessments

    Record keeping in years required by HSE

    HSE Hearing Categories

    Get in touch

    41 Station Road

    Ellesmere Port

    CH66 1NU